INDIANAPOLIS -- The Bears are expected to meet at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine with most, if not all, of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft class, sources say.
But sources also warn that shouldn't be seen as any indication the Bears are going to take a quarterback with the top overall pick. In fact, it is still unlikely Chicago actually owns the top selection once April's draft rolls around with the Bears likely to trade the pick and move back within the top half of the draft.
Chicago holds the No. 1 overall pick following its second season with starting quarterback Justin Fields. Sources strongly believe the Bears are not going to draft a quarterback in the first round of this year's draft, and that Chicago continues to feel Justin Fields is QB1 for 2023. But the Bears, led by second-year general manager Ryan Poles and second-year head coach Matt Eberflus, have to probe all available options this offseason.
The Bears should be meeting with most top prospects across nearly all positions this week.
Sources questioned whether the Bears feel like there's a quarterback head-and-shoulders above Fields in this year's draft heading into the combine. The interview process, combined with on-field work in Indianapolis, private workouts, pro days and top-30 visits to the team facility, will all be used to determine how Chicago ranks these quarterbacks (and other players.)
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Bryce Young is considered the top quarterback in this year's class heading into the combine, though much depends on his measurables this week and any given team's appetite for his smaller frame. C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson fill out the quartet of the top signal callers in this year's class.
Drafting a quarterback near the top of the draft with one in-house on a rookie deal is rare in the NFL. The most recent and prominent example was when the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray No. 1 overall in 2019 one year after selecting Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick. The Browns took Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 draft two years after they selected Brandon Weeden in the first round of the 2012 draft.
Fields is entering the third year of his four-year, $18.87 million contract signed when the Bears drafted him 11th overall in 2021. He'll have a salary cap hit of $5.146 million in 2023.
Fields showed some improvement in his second year, completing passes at a higher rate, throwing touchdowns at a higher rate and throwing interceptions at a lower rate than his rookie season. He led all quarterbacks in rushing with 1,143 yards, second-most in a single season for a quarterback behind only 2019 Lamar Jackson.
There are several quarterback-needy teams in the league before the start of free agency. Houston (selecting second and 12th overall), Indianapolis (fourth) and Carolina (ninth) are all contenders to trade up with the Bears for the top spot and select their quarterback of the future.